Ask the person sitting next to you on the bus, or at a bar, or on a street what HDCP is, and they will look at you blankly. But this little, unheard of spec is one that can truly make or break a client's system.
Back in December I wrote an article urging my fellow integrators to hold off selling 4K TVs because 2014 models were not HDCP 2.2 compliant (How are you handling the 4k Holiday Sales Blitz). If you have not been following along, HDCP stands for High Definition Content Protection. It’s a hardware encryption specification created by Intel in 2001 to prevent pirates from copying media and sending it to their buddies online. I ask my clients if they remember Napster, and how the music industry took a hit with free music being distributing to help explain the position. This content protection is found on major TVs, AV receivers, and other units that have video cards.
Previous versions of HDCP (2.1 and lower) protected content 1080p and below, but HDCP 2.2 was created for 4K copyright protection. If a device is not HDCP 2.2 compliant, it will not work with future devices that are.
At CES this past January, Panasonic showed off a prototype of an Ultra HD video player, and rumor has it that we could see these 4K discs in all their uncompressed glory by the end of the year. Connect that new 4K player to your non-compliant 4K set and you will be watching a beautiful blank screen. In the next few months, mark my words, you will receive a phone call from a client informing you that his or her new TV does not work (they always think it is the TV that is broken). You will start asking questions, digging deeper into the problem, only to discover the issue is good ol’ American compliancy.
For this reason, I have urged my customers and my fellow AV industry sales people to hold off on selling 4K. It has been an uphill fight, as clients keep seeing “too good to be true deals” at their local big box store and online. I continued to explain (to anyone that would listen) that despite the sales, 4K just was not there yet.
I give you my blessing my friends; buy and sell 4K TVs to your hearts delight. Sony has even listed HDCP 2.2 in its technical specs online (Oh Sony – I’m thinking we should date again!). This excitement couples with the fact that its 2015 line of TVs is thinner than last year (thinner than Samsung’s new line, actually). I will be placing my order to stock these TVs today.
Sony lists HDCP 2.2 is its technical specs online.
Samsung and LG also now say they are compliant, although neither lists this spec on its website. If you go on either of these websites and chat with a live representative, they will confirm that their 2015 line of 4K sets are HDCP 2.2 compatible. Attempting to get this in writing was unsuccessful beyond that.
Now, of course, it is still a difficult task to receive actual 4K signals in your home, but who is to say this problem will not be solved within the next year or two? Certainly, flat screens are kept a few years, and now you can, in good faith, sell your clients a TV that is best for today’s programs and ready for all that the future has to hold.
That is, until they come out with 8k or beyond.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.